We hear more about marketing than any other topic when it comes to golf. A good golf marketing campaign is never just one person’s job. There are too many moving pieces to do it yourself, and not everything can happen on time.
When golf courses hire general managers, they need to ensure that the golf marketing strategy is not just a few tactics thrown together. They must focus on getting people in and then making them spend money.
This golf marketing guide is for anyone in a managerial position or who works at the golf course tasked with developing a marketing plan.
We’re going to look at the whole process of golf course marketing, from planning and development to execution. Whether you want a re-launch or an automated campaign on your website, this article will cover it all.
What Is Golf Marketing?
Golf marketing is all of a golf course’s actions to create awareness, establish its brand experience, and sell tee times. These include advertising pro shop items, delighting customers with customer service, etc.
Golf courses use a mix of marketing tools, channels, and strategies to achieve their goals.
Golf courses have a variety of marketing channels that they use.
- Online booking
- Pay per click
- Word of mouth, referrals
- Mobile app
- Distribution of tee times on the marketplace
- SMS marketing
- Radio, posters, television, and other forms of golf advertising
With so many ways to sell, a company needs to identify each channel and create golf marketing strategies that work best with them.
Golf Course Marketing Plan
A golf marketing plan can be challenging to create. It is a common misconception that marketing can be done ad hoc. It takes time and money to see accurate results, so you need to ensure your plan for reaching customers is solid before implementing it.
Typically, a golf marketing plan spans one year and is divided into quarters. This makes sense because the seasonality of courses would make it hard to keep up with what works at different times of the year.
Most companies start and end their golf marketing plan at the beginning of a fiscal year. This allows them to look back on what they accomplished, compare it with goals for that time, make adjustments as needed before starting again.
How to develop a golf marketing plan:
- Establish a clear mission statement for the golf course
- Define objectives and key performance indicators (KPIs)
- Know your target audience
- Marketing channels and promotion strategies
- Analyze your competition
- Define roles and responsibilities
The golf course marketing plan is key to a successful branding strategy. It helps you decide on your message, identify what channels will be most effective for reaching potential customers and generate interest in your business.
Developing A Golf Course Branding Strategy
Your marketing campaign is useless if you have not assessed your branding strategy.
Understanding the type of golfer your golf course is targeting and how they will be marketed to is critical for a successful golf marketing strategy.
You need to know who your target audience is before figuring out how best to market yourself.
It will be easy to find your place in the market if you have the proper branding.
If you don’t focus on branding your company, the chances are that it will confuse customers and lose them. Or worse still, attract people who won’t come back.
Developing a solid golf course brand requires understanding your ideal customer, what they want to experience when playing the game of golf and how you differentiate yourself from other courses.
Key aspects of golf course branding
1. Ideal customer demographic
What type of people are you trying to attract? What do your facilities offer to appeal more to families, young men, women in their 20s, retirees, or some other group?
Understanding your customers will help you decide what to market, how much of a product they want, and its quality.
2. Market position
Private golf courses offer a more exclusive experience, whereas municipal ones are open to all. The success of your business depends on the design and location and how long you have been in a community.
3. Customer experience
Golf course brands are built on customer experiences. A round of golf is not cheap, and it’s clear that customers expect a certain quality based on the price they pay for their game.
For golf courses, every customer interaction is an opportunity to build your brand.
Finding the right target demographic
Identifying a target demographic is an essential step in starting your golf course. You need to consider whether the amenities are appropriate for this group, if they find it attractive or appealing, and how much money you can make.
For instance, a prime location may be a golf course, targeting wealthy individuals in an exclusive setting with traditional branding and offerings.
Golf courses in competitive markets need to find a way to stand out from the crowd. They should focus on families and young people looking for an unusual experience.
The key to branding your golf course is doing research and understanding what will work best for the area you are in.
Email Marketing At The Golf Course
I know that your golf course must use email marketing because most do.
It’s an excellent channel for many operators, but it can be hard to get right.
Successful email marketing strategies are more successful because they follow a formula of targeting, segmentation, messaging, and design. In addition to these things, the process must automate some aspects of it.
Many golf courses send terrible emails to their list, but they are usually segmented. They’re not very good at targeting the right people with their messages.
Golf courses often use these marketing emails:
- Tournament and event invites
- Holiday messages
- Thank You’s
- Loyalty rewards
To get the most out of your email marketing, ensure that the golf communications you send are on brand and relevant to their context.
To do this, you’ll need an excellent segmentation feature on your database of golfers. More importantly, though, think about the different reasons why it’s okay to contact someone by email – they’re not just reaching people for promotions or deals but also event invites and personal messages from staff.
Email design and crafting a good subject line are essential, but the key to success is timing your emails well by sending them at the right time.
Mobile App And SMS Marketing
It’s not a surprise to hear that most of your members have smartphones and will bring them into the facility, even if you prohibit them.
- Golf courses can now use phone screens to show off their facilities.
- Mobile apps and SMS marketing are more than just a channel for promotion. They allow you to reach your customer audience directly in their pockets.
- Open rates for push notifications and text messages are high, so it’s essential to use this marketing channel.
- Mobile apps are more than just a score-keeping tool. They can improve the customer experience by giving golfers live maps, course layouts, and green fees.
- A custom app can be a powerful tool to market tee-time deals and promotions and provide members with information about their account balances.
The best thing about mobile apps is that they open up a channel to send push notifications for deals, promotions, and announcements. There are many ways you can use your app as an effective marketing tool.
A golf course may not want to invest in a custom mobile app because they are afraid their customers won’t download it. But with a well-planned app download campaign, you can reach and entice the right audience with messaging and incentives to encourage them to download your mobile application.
Text messages work similarly to mobile apps because they can provide instant notifications and updates directly into people’s pockets. A phone call or email can be a little disruptive. So, some different rules apply. The key to successful texting is only sending relevant messages and asking for consent before contacting people.
One example of a successful text marketing campaign might be to send a message promoting specials at the restaurant during lunchtime, but there are many other great examples.
Implementing A Promotion Strategy
Many businesses will put together a promotion strategy that includes discounts or deals when promoting golf courses. However, sometimes these promotions can feel like they don’t make sense and leave the player feeling disjointed.
When it comes to promotions, you have to think carefully about what the best strategies are:
Golf course promotion strategies:
- Tee time discounts
- Bring a friend discounts
- Buy one take one
- Loyalty program rewards
- Ticket books and packages
- Restaurant and pro shop deals
- Food vouchers for purchased rounds
If you want to be successful with your next promotion strategy, make sure that you have clear goals and a plan for maximizing the value of each sale.
The goal of any promotion should be to make sure that the customer sticks around and becomes a long-term client.
To retain customers, you need a system that captures all of the information from your sales.
Thanks to online booking software and good staff training, it’s not difficult to collect data anymore.
Third-Party Tee Time Marketplaces
Tee time marketplaces or distributors are websites that allow golfers to purchase tee times from a variety of courses and then sell those tickets on the website. This has been proven an effective marketing strategy for large sites like GolfNow, Tee-Off, and Chronogolf Marketplace.
In the past, some of these distributors have come under fire for devaluing tee times with aggressive trade policies that took advantage of golf courses. However, those days are coming to an end because there is now more scrutiny on doing business.
Tee time marketplaces are not going anywhere. If you have a good relationship with your supplier, they can be an excellent golf club marketing resource.
Distribution websites are not just a place to book rooms. There is an associated cost with using them, and you need to consider marketing ROI when deciding whether or not they will be beneficial for your business.
One of the key benefits of partnering with a tee time distribution company is that they have access to new customers. And, if you are looking for customers, make sure that your ultimate goal is to convert them into returning clients.
You need to make sure that you capture customer information and market your channels, such as online booking technology or loyalty programs. Once they give their contact info, it’s best if you can get them back into the store.
When negotiating with a tee-time distribution partner, you need to ensure that the deal is fair. If you know what it takes to get a good agreement, your golf course can attract many customers from these vast websites.
Pay Per Click As A Golf Marketing Channel
If you are thinking about using pay-per-click marketing, then Google AdWords is the best way to go.
A successful campaign requires careful planning and consideration, primarily if you use pay-per-click campaigns. Pay-per-click is costly and time-consuming––especially when it’s done wrong.
When you want to run ads through Google, it is good to hire an expert or at least consult with one.
A few things to keep in mind before you begin a pay per click campaign:
- Budget and time frame
- Ad placements
- Conversion goals
- Targeting strategy
Do not jump right into an entire campaign. It is better to experiment with different promotion mixes to find the best combination of incentives.
A great way to reach your audience is by remarketing people who have visited your website.
Pay-per-click advertising is a great way to promote your business, but you need to be prepared. It would help if you had an idea of what audience you want and how the ad will appear before investing in it.
Website Design And SEO
The website is an essential source of information and booking for tee times for golf courses. A user-friendly online interface can make it much easier to book a time.
I have found that booking tee times online is much more convenient for my customers and myself. The customer can book their time slot without having to talk with a staff member or deal with long hold times. They also don’t need any additional charges from using an outside distribution website because I offer it all in one place.
The best part about booking online is getting the customer’s contact information, which can be used for marketing purposes. This way, they will know when your business has new offers or sales.
When it comes to creating a website, we recommend partnering with a reputable design agency. Building an optimized site that will lead users through the conversion process requires specialized knowledge and skills.
It’s essential to work with a design agency that knows how to optimize your website to rank well in Google search results.
There is a process called Search Engine Optimization, or SEO. This system allows for the generation of tee time bookings when golfers search their area.
It is crucial to invest in your website since it will be the first contact point for many customers. Don’t try and save money by skimping on this vital marketing channel.
Golf Course Social Media Strategy
Golf course managers are looking for ways to use social media.
These channels allow for easy access to potential customers and can be a great way of sharing announcements, promotions, and other golf course-related information.
One of the first steps to take when starting a golf course is setting up social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
You need to have complete and accurate information with high-quality images for your social media page. You can’t just post once and expect to get the same interaction as someone who posts regularly. Make sure you are posting consistently so that your followers don’t forget about you.
Golf courses can use social media to post photos of the course, images of golfers on their rounds, or even videos showing them how they should play sure holes. A reason why golf courses have attracted millennials through social media is that it provides an appealing marketing channel.
One of the best ways to get people talking about your golf course is by being creative with campaigns. You can do this in various ways, but it’s vital that you also have an active community, so they feel like their voice matters.
Social media strategies that encourage comments and discussions:
- Facebook groups
- Twitter groups
- Online review pages
- Influencer campaigns
- Branded hashtag campaigns
- Social media sweepstakes and contests
You should be posting on social media to spark discussion.
Knowing that your audience is interested in golf, you should talk about the game itself and its techniques. You could also discuss famous players of the sport or a course near to where they live.
Influencer Marketing and Attracting Millennials
The myth that millennials are not interested in golf needs to be put to rest.
It is prevalent for golf courses to take advantage of the fact that most golfers are loyal, even young.
The golf industry has difficulty attracting young customers and members because the game is expensive. It takes up too much of their free time for little return. There are few opportunities to socialize or interact with other people in person.
Millennials can tell that the golf course has not been updated in a while. So, they walk away because you’re not giving them what they want. It’s a lot more challenging to get millennials into the golf course habit than with older, loyal customers.
This generation is not always motivated by the same things as older generations. Topgolf, a famous golf course and entertainment complex, has taken note of this trend and is marketing to millennials to keep them coming back.
The youth of today are constantly glued to their phones, and they enjoy sharing what is going on in their lives with others. A good example would be a young person who posts an Instagram post showing them teeing off at the golf course one Saturday morning.
Millennials want to feel like they belong and share about your facility on social media if you offer an authentic experience with integrated technology.
Flyers, Media, And Out-of-home Marketing
Many golf courses have used posters, flyers, and billboards to promote their businesses in the past. These methods are still widespread.
Golf is a very traditional industry, and customers have been conditioned to expect golf marketing materials in this format. This means that they are more likely to respond positively when they see it.
Typically, the most effective marketing for these purposes involves raising brand awareness and pulling in foot traffic. Important information about upcoming tournaments or events is also spread around.
Companies often use expensive golf course marketing campaigns to advertise, such as radio and television advertising or billboard displays.
If you want to go this route, make sure your ads get the message across. The success of these campaigns depends on the tone, design, and placement. When advertising an upcoming tournament or event, there are many design principles to keep in mind so that you don’t miss the mark.
You have to be careful about the conversion rates with any media strategy. It can be difficult to measure if your audience is being influenced by it.
Measuring Results With Analytics
It is essential to measure the return on investment in marketing because it will tell you if your product or service offers value for money.
It would be best if you were sure that your marketing campaign generates positive returns on investment. If it isn’t, you are wasting time and money.
All campaigns should have goals and KPIs that will be measured with a set of dashboards.
Every marketing tactic has its own set of metrics that should be tracked. For example, email campaigns will track the number of people who open your emails and click on them, whereas pay-per-click adverts measure how much you are spending for each person relating to your website and whether or not they make a purchase.
Tracking these metrics can be difficult, but it becomes much easier to manage if you invest in modern technology like dashboards and other programs that analyze this data for you.
In the end, any marketing campaign is designed to create more bookings and revenue.
The best way to analyze your marketing is by measuring its success in terms of revenue. This will help you identify what strategies are working and which ones aren’t.
Technology has become an integral part of any successful marketing campaign.
There is a clear correlation between digital marketing and technology, but it can be very beneficial to use modern software for your business needs.
One way to improve golf marketing is by using these tools:
- Email marketing software
- Business intelligence reporting
- Automation software
- Social media posting
- Mobile apps
- Discounting and promotion tools
- Google analytics
- SMS marketing software
- Google Adwords
- Facebook for business
- Golf course CRM software
Various tools can be used to help marketing and analytics. Some provide new channels, while others analyze information.
Final Thoughts on Golf Marketing
If you are struggling with marketing your golf course, it may be time to take a step back and reassess how you’re doing things.
To be successful, a company needs to develop a golf marketing plan for its industry. Determine the channels you want to use and how much money is available for expenses.
Your company’s brand will often be the first thing that customers experience.
Your branding will significantly impact the customer’s first impression of your facility.
An excellent way to measure the success of your marketing initiatives is by tracking ROI. You want to make sure that any effort you put into a campaign pays off.